For those with intimate knowledge of American Appetite’s culinary explorations have known this day was destined to come. A loosely held secret is my obsession over the ultimate taco joint, and here we are pitting my top two contenders against one another.
There are a set of particular criteria that really set apart a dining establishment in my eyes. Affordability is key, that is until the blog gets mentioned on Ellen, Oprah, Steve (Harvey) or any of the other mononymous day time talk hosts that will bring in the buku bucks, so before the money rolls in, the cheaper the grub the higher my opinion. Authenticity is key. Don’t get me wrong I’m sure you can get some pretty scrumptious samplings from a nice upscale taqueria helmed by a Wisconsin dairy farmer, but I’ll take the hole in the wall where seating is minimal and you initially get the feeling that you walked in the wrong door when you walk in.
Lastly it has to be delicious, I know real tough decision on that one.
Let’s first take a look at the exceptional bounty of Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York Totilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos . Los Hermanos as I lovingly refer to it as, is the reverse mullet of Mexican cuisine, party in the front business in the back. The makeshift tortilla factory churns out thousands of taco tarps in the back while those same canvas’s are filled with scrumptious stuffings along a counter top just inside the glowing neon door. Orders get placed on an index card with your name on it and you grab a seat in the heart of their warehouse. Authenticity gets high marks here as you literally can see the tortillas coming off the line to be stacked and bagged, occasionally by child labor in this family run establishment, but who hasn’t helped out at their mom and pop’s shop before.
When it comes to the menu, you have the same basic 7 filling options that come in a myriad of different delivery options.
For my money it is best to stick with the taco because you can try a more diverse variety, from their big hit chorizo, to the pollo, and the crowd pleasing carnitas. If you do settle on a favorite, I would bump it up to quesadilla which is essentially a crispy griddled oversized taco. You can’t go wrong with any of the consumption chariots however as I have tried them all and they all are delicious. What really tops things off at Los Hermanos is their dual salsas on the tables, both red and green provide their own level of picante. Rookies beware the heat can really sneak up on you.
Next up in the battle is the maize masters out of Waltham, MA in Taqueria El Amigo. Authenticity gets a huge boost right off the bat as they don’t even have their own website or social media pages. This tiny store front boasts a total of 6 tables that can fit a total 16 people at one time, making the wait in the cramped confines highly worth it. Once seated, your appetite is appeased with some tortilla chips and supremely spicy ferociously fresh salsa.
With a larger array of options than Los Hermanos, El Amigo does a full service Mexican meal ranging from breakfast options, to burritos, to soups, and platters. While I can attest that their weekend only Menudo is divine, and the tortas are top notch, let’s keep this a purely taco take down, after all that is what is usually what drives me here. The way to go is with one of the Taco Especiales choices. Topped with onion, cilantro, and a giant slice of avocado, these quad tac’s really let the meat speak for itself, and boy won’t it ever shut up. While the Lengua (tongue) is tender and the Pollo (chichken) is spiced up nice, Dame Cabeza! The cheek meat is like the most flavorful pot roast you will ever have in your life. It washes over your taste buds like a magical meaty mountain.
While both spots have their merits worthy of taking the win over the other, there is only one spot that almost made me leave a clandestine first date to go get some taco’s, and that is Los Hermanos. Whenever I am in the area it is a necessary pit stop, and when I am away it is what I am craving. It also doesn’t hurt that I have spent my last 3 birthdays there. Regardless you should be judge for yourself because you will never be disappointed at either joint.